Invasive species in Missouri pose a threat to the native environment through the crowding out of native species and habitat destruction. A species is considered invasive when it comes from other watersheds, regions, or continents and in their new environment have no natural controls. These invasives can be in the form of insects, fungi, and woody plants.
Here are a few examples of invasive species to be aware of in Missouri. Understanding more about them might help you to recognize them and take steps to remove them or control their population:
Emerald Ash Borer
Emerald ash borer (EAB) is an invasive species of beetle that was accidentally introduced to the United States in 2002. This devastating pest attacks ash trees and has killed 17 million ash trees in the United States, costing cities and homeowners over 10 billion dollars. It has been described as the most costly invasive pest in US history. In cities across the US, untreated ash trees are being lost at alarming rates. The good news is that treatments are available with over 95% effectiveness. EAB is well-established in St. Louis so if you have ash trees in your yard, talk to the professionals at Hansen’s for getting them inspected, treated, or removed.
Bradford, or Callery pear, is a common sight in St. Louis with their white, flowering blooms in the spring. But these trees are more than they appear. The flowers create an offensive smell, and they are prone to breakage that can damage property. Pear varieties will cross pollinate creating hybrid offspring with viable seed that quickly leads to large areas becoming covered with these aggressive trees. Native plants and trees better suited to a site are crowded out and a tangled mess of thorny branches create impenetrable landscapes. That lovely looking flowering tree in your yard may be responsible for creating pollen or seeds that lead to the spread. Many cities and organizations sponsor events that will provide a free replacement tree (native of course) if you cut your pear and provide a photograph of its removal.
Tree Of Heaven
Tree of heaven is a fast-spreading tree that tolerates and thrives in nearly any condition. While this can seem like a benefit, it is difficult to eradicate and grows quickly via suckers and seeds. Branches are weak and fail on larger trees. Tree of heaven can be identified through its compounded leaves, fuzzy, reddish-brown twigs, clusters of light green seed pods, and smooth bark.
Asian Longhorn Beetle
While not currently found in Missouri, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for longhorn beetle. Chicago has been hit hard with this pest and lost thousands of mature trees. This white-spotted insect attacks hardwood trees like maples, poplars, elms, ashes, and birches, among others. So keep an eye out for the signs of longhorn beetle and call Hansen’s for treatment.